Avengers: Endgame not only wrapped up 10 years of Marvel-based superhero storytelling, it also introduced the MCU's first openly gay character. Played by co-director Joe Russo, the "Grieving Man" (as he's named on IMDb) was not universally well received by the public, with some individuals feeling that it was a wasted opportunity to add real and weighty inclusion to the big-screen superhero canon.
“That was never meant to be our first focused character,” Kevin Feige told io9. “That was just meant to be a matter of fact and a matter of life and a matter of truth. And I liked it that our hero, Steve Rogers, doesn’t blink an eye at that fact. It is just truth and is heartbreaking for his loss and for the life he’s trying to put back together. It was never meant to be looked at as our first hero. I guess it’s the first reference so it does, of course, get a lot of attention.”
The character appears in the first scene after the five-year time jump following Thor's beheading of Thanos. He tells a post-Snap support group (led by Captain America and attended by Thanos creator Jim Starlin) that he went on a date with another man and that both of them, still not over the decimation of half the planet's population half a decade before, ended up crying over dinner.
Shortly before the movie's release in late April, Joe talked about how it was important A) for him and his brother/co-director, Anthony Russo, to make the project more diverse and B) for the MCU's first openly gay character to be played by one of them. Two weeks afterward, the filmmakers talked more about the groundbreaking moment and how it was just the beginning of inclusivity in Marvel Studios' movies.
"We haven’t been shy about saying that that’s coming and that there’s much more prominent LGBT heroes in the future ... [they're] coming soon," Feige added during his interview with io9. In the past, he's stated that "the world is ready."
Reports have been circulating that the studio's live-action Eternals movie is looking to cast a gay actor for one of the lead roles. So far, the project, directed by Chloé Zhao, has attracted major names like Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, and Richard Madden.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Avengers: Endgame would be re-released in theaters (possibly next weekend) with never-before-seen footage. Some are seeing this move as Disney's last-ditch attempt to overtake James Cameron's Avatar (2009) as the highest-grossing film of all time.